My rating: 4 of 5 stars
David Kohl is a phonomancer, a mystic who can understand the magic of a song. He is pressed into service by the Goddess to investigate changes to one of her aspects: Britannia who once presided over Britpop. As the scene that gave David his unique power changes & simplifies, he changes as well–and not for the better. He must hurry & find whose interfering with the past before he becomes a shadow of himself.
The above plot explanation really only scratches the surface of what Phonogram is about. The forces of memory, inspiration, & art are at play here & Gillen has a dense, intelligent story for readers who thrive on music. The music references are super-insider-y but there’s a detailed index in the back for those who are curious. This may make it sound like Phonogram is a challenging story to get into but Gillen works hard to say something sincere about culture & how it brings people together, how music speaks to & essentially changes us, & the aftermath of heady euphoric times once we move past them.
Wry, self-aware, & totally committed to simultaneously making fun of & venerating pop culture, Phonogram is an interesting dissection of the heart of obsession & is an interesting warm-up for his next series The Wicked and the Divine.